D is for Digital Identity

For the next installment of our A-Z of adtech series we’re looking at digital identity.

Digital identity has underpinned programmatic and digital advertising for the last ten years. However it now feels like everybody is discussing it more than ever. Articles and stories dedicated to digital identity management seem to be appearing in the press on a weekly basis.

At Unruly’s latest Trust Talks event in London we asked a number of leading industry experts why digital identity has become popular again, where it’s headed, and what the terms means to them.

Nigel Gilbert, Chief Market Strategist at AppNexus EMEA A Xandr Company

Nigel Gilbert

It’s all about the timing. Programmatic has been around for ten years or so. We also understand from a targeting and performance perspective that digital identity is probably the easiest and most straightforward way to target. Therefore it’s what everybody jumped on.

Retargeting returns the best performance out of any other form of targeting that you can use programmatic for. So for that reason everybody wants to scale it and find an automated solution that can work for their business. For it to be automated it has to have scale otherwise it doesn’t compute. I think there’s possibly too much of a race towards automating identity at scale than there probably should be. I don’t believe there can be a global solution, and I don’t believe people should be looking for one.    

Morwenna Beales, VP at ID5

Morwenna Beales

Programmatic was initially always about scale and the open marketplace. We’ve seen that change with the emergence of new channels like video and mobile. But what underpins programmatic now is data, and what underpins data is digital identity. I think people are starting to realise that having a grip on digital identity is a real competitive advantage against walled gardens and the marketplace. I think that’s probably why we keep talking about it.

Matt Simpson, Joint CEO Investment at Omnicom

Matt Simpson

I think digital identity is all about the identification of the individual. I know identity has not always been that; it’s been about identifying devices or cookies and so forth. But we now talk to clients about knowing as much as we can about perspective customers and about existing customers.

The reason brands are so interested in digital identity is because they’ve spent so much money on it. They’ve bought the dream of digital identity before it’s really here. With the introduction of things like GDPR, they now have this huge known audience which is their customers. They also have this unknown audience which is mainly the cookies that people use in advertising. They’re desperate to tie those two things together to get the outcomes that have been promised to them for a number of years. So for us, it’s really about knowing their consumers and their perspective consumers, and being able to inform on not just digital activity but on everything they do.

Shane Shevlin, SVP Strategic Development at IPONWEB

Shane Shevlin

Digital identity is not the same as legal identity and that creates an issue. It’s a simple question of the walled garden advantage right now. As large publishers, tech companies, and ad networks create scaled audiences with deterministic data, that leaves a lot less for smaller companies and independent publishers. That’s a problem we need to solve both for agencies and for brands today.

I think increasingly the question of regulation and ownership of your digital identity, in addition to things like cross device tracking and attribution, are still problems that need to be solved for the ecosystem. That’s where we see ourselves at IPONWEB sitting, right at the core of those very complex engineering tasks that need to be solved.  

Paul Gubbins, Programmatic Lead at Unruly     

Paul Gubbins

I believe digital Identity will become the new battle ground, and those that own it will display little sympathy for those that don’t, as it increasingly becomes a USP to lock in media budgets. Device graphs will be trendy once again next year and the must have accessories as consumer time fragments even further from desktop, mobile web, app, OTT & increasingly the devices powered by the growing IoT’s infrastructure.

ID coalitions and joint ventures will come and go. Some will focus on building a more efficient cookie to increase match rates for buyers and sellers. Others will build a common probabilistic and screen agnostic ID that will help brands and agencies manage holistic reach, frequency and attribution across their myriad of programmatic media buys in the face of walled gardens and browsers restricting 3rd party cookies (Think ITP & beyond!).

There will be cries, asks and demands from both the buy and sell side for a common framework when it comes to digital identity. Who should own this will continue to be a moot point and one debated at great length on many panels in 2019. Should digital identity be a commodity or USP? Only time will tell!

Check out other posts in our A-Z of adtech series.

On 6 November we kick off our next Trust Talks event in London. On a scale of 1-10, how excited are we to bring this event back to the UK? We reckon about 15! This edition of Trust Talks is focused on all things programmatic!

The programmatic advertising ecosystem can be a confusing place – so full of acronyms, vendors and platforms that it can be hard to know who (and what) you can trust. The issues of brand safety have dominated the headlines in recent times, and this is only becoming more of a concern as programmatic buying continues to scale.

In light of this we decided it was time to bring influential figures within the programmatic sphere in the UK together under one roof for the morning to discuss the problems and opportunities that programmatic is facing, and how we can work together as an industry to either solve or embrace them.

We will be hosting a number of panels throughout the morning to discuss and tackle some of the most prevalent issues and questions being asked across the programmatic model. Take a look below to find out who will be speaking, and what each panel will cover.

Trust Talks: The Great Programmatic Debate will be live streaming via the Unruly Facebook page from 9-12 on Tuesday 5th November!

09:10 – 09:40: Adtech 2018 – impressions from the sell side

Adtech 2018 - impressions from the sell side panel

Moderated by Ronan Shields, Ad Tech Reporter, Adweek. This panel will address the issues and opportunities facing premium publishers in 2018. From the rise of initiatives such as ITP from Safari restricting ad opportunities on mWeb, right through to the complex landscape of unified yield management, also known as header bidding. The panel will discuss life post-GDPR, the rise of 2nd party data marketplaces, and why publisher coalitions are so hot right now. 

Speakers:

  • Dora Michail, MD Digital Telegraph
  • Steph Miller, Head of Sales & Marketing Services, Zoopla
  • Danny Spears, Programmatic Director, The Guardian
  • Lauren Dick – Head of Emerging Platforms, Mail Online
09:45 – 10:15: Identity, the quest for an open & alternative ID continues

Identity, the quest for an open & alternative ID continues panel

Moderated by Paul Gubbins, Programmatic Lead, Unruly. This panel looks at where we are as an industry in the quest for an alternative and open ID. They will challenge the idea that life post-cookie will challenge visibility for both buyers and sellers, unless they operate within walled gardens. The panel will also explore ID portability, and how initiatives from bodies such as the IAB Tech Lab will tackle areas of concern such as digital ID management, privacy legislation and the explosive growth of connected devices.

Speakers:

  • Nigel Gilbert – Chief Market Strategist, AppNexus EMEA, A Xandr Company
  • Shane Shevlin – SVP Strategic Development, IPONWEB
  • Matt Simpson – Joint CEO Investment Omnicom
  • Morwenna Beales, VP ID5
10:35 – 11:05: Exchanging views, thoughts from the buy side

Exchanging views, thoughts from the buy side panel

Moderated by Vincent Flood, Editor, Video Ad News. This panel will discuss in detail the ever-changing programmatic landscape and look at best practice examples from those on the buy side. it will address topics such as auction mechanics like bid caching and shading, releases such as ITP from Safari, and the emergence of new transaction models such as programmatic guaranteed. This panel will also discuss preferences for 1st versus 2nd price auctions, and how initiatives such as ads.txt have changed the way traders buy.

Speakers:

  • Matt Bushby, Head of Programmatic, MediaCom
  • Charlie Glyn – Head of Programmatic, Havas Media Group
  • Simon Harris – Head of Programmatic, Activation Dentsu Aegis
  • Emily Macdonald – SVP Precision EMEA, Publicis Media
11:10 – 11:40: Why emotions matter in an age of automated advertising

Why emotions matter in an age of automated advertising panel

Moderated by James Chandler – CMO, IAB. This panel will focus on how marketers are showing an increasing appetite to understand the connection between consumer emotions and digital advertising.

Post-GDPR, and pre full roll out of the CCPA, dependencies on 3rd party data sets have been wound down. Marketers and agencies are now looking for signals familiar from traditional advertising buys, but that are often overlooked in programmatic. Featuring pioneering insight from UnrulyEQ, this panel will discuss the rise of AI and what using traditional targeting methods via modern programmatic technology actually means for those on both the buy and sell sides.

Speakers:

  • Liam Brennan, Global Director of Innovation, MediaCom
  • Becky Waring, VP Insight, UnrulyEQ
  • Anna Forbes, UK general Manager, The Trade desk

11:40 – 12:00: Closing remarks and refreshments

Trust Talks: The Great Programmatic Debate will be live streaming via the Unruly Facebook page from 9-12 on Tuesday 5th November!

Click here to find out more about this event.

The programmatic advertising ecosystem can be a confusing place – so full of acronyms, vendors and platforms that it can be hard to know who (and what) you can trust. The issues of brand safety has been publicized for quite some time, and is only becoming more of a concern as programmatic buying continues to scale.

At our last Unruly Trust Talks event in New York, Unruly’s Programmatic lead Paul Gubbins sat down with Ryan Rolf, VP Data Solutions at Lotame, Rachel Nyswander Thomas, SVP Operations at TAG, and Doug Zarkin, CMO at Pearle Vision to uncover the truth behind popular programmatic myths, and how advertisers can work to rebuild trust.

Paul Gubbins (PG): Why do publishers and brands still not trust adtech vendors?

Doug Zarkin (DZ): It’s because people blindly trust technology in this space. The programmatic model is only as good as the input you put in it. One of the main flaws in the programmatic model today is that there isn’t enough of an understanding of brand intent or consumer targeting. It’s just the programmatic model says, for example, I should target blonde, blue-eyed women between the ages of 27-35 who have a poodle. There’s not enough of an understanding of the person that’s pulling those levers and making those adjustments to the programmatic model of what the brands intent is, and what reality looks like outside of the algorithm.  

Rachel Nyswander Thomas (RT): I think you’re spot on, I also think there are other aspects to it. I understand brands saying they need to know everything that is happening in the programmatic model, and that is part of what TAG works on – the transparency of exactly what is going on in the supply chain. We are exactly three years old, which isn’t very long in the history of programmatic in terms of having standards by which you can judge the efficacy of your anti-fraud vendors. Yes, there are the MIC guidelines, but let’s be honest, there’s a lot more to fighting fraud than that. I think we are gaining trust back as an industry at this point. Knowing your partner’s more closely is going to be key to continuing to do that.

PG: As I think we all agree programmatic is good, but nowhere near as good as it could be, how do we fix this?

DZ: Firstly I think there are some opportunities with the agency model: we need to look at what should be done in-house and out-of-house. Secondly we need to look at the ad experience. Let’s not forget the advantage of advertising is to motivate an action, and that action comes in two ways. There has to be an emotional decision before that rational choice. One of the questions we need to ask is how do you make the advertising experience better in the digital landscape? The answer is deliver a better brief.

We have an amazing creative agency that does all our digital stuff and contrary to their earlier view, they love doing digital because they’re not confined to a 30, 60 or 15 second ad. We can create a 72, 83, or even a 2:12 second ad if we want to tell the entire story. The input that goes into any model, especially when it comes to programmatic, is only as good as the amount of time you’ve taken to write the brief. You also need to understand the emotional decision making process a consumer goes through before they make that rational choice to click on your banner and take the action.

The entity itself has to be done right before the results can come. Programmatic is simply the science. The art really comes in the ‘what’. If you are a brand in a competitive market you really need to ask yourself what your ad is saying, and communicate that in an emotive way to your consumers. Everyone says that Amazon is killing retail. They aren’t, they are just killing bad retail. The bar has been raised for all of us who are in a position to drive the ‘what’, to spend more time thinking about what the ‘what’ is, before we spend too much time thinking about ‘how’.

Trust talks: the great programmatic debate panel NYC

PG: There are now a multitude of different vendors you can work with within the advertising space. There’s no shortage of buy side vendors, of sell side vendors or of third party data vendors. How do you go about navigating that space and finding the right vendors that you can trust?

Ryan Rolf (RR): As an independent company we come up against the clouds, your Adobe, your Neilsons and this goes back to that whole idea of saying that no one ever got fired for choosing blue, and this is something we come up against all the time. The issue we have is that people don’t know us as well as they do the bigger vendors. Our main message is the fact that we really just specialise in data, and help companies untap that data, which to Doug’s point is just one piece of the puzzle. People often come to us if they are looking for that, rather than the cloud companies who have 50 other solutions that they are trying to sell them that they just don’t need.

DZ: I think brands have to come down and data suppliers and providers need to come up and be able to keep things as simple as possible. Because at the end of the day I don’t believe there is a comprehensive understanding that exists. All the problems about what websites to go to and privacy this and privacy that, those are all real issues and I’m not mitigating the impact of them, but I do not believe that the technology in those who are empowered with only the technology realise that any buyer of that technology isn’t a tech nerd.

Trust talks: the great programmatic debate panel NYC

PG: Why as an industry do you think we keep over-complicating things?

RR: I think truthfully the only reason we over-complicate things is because we keep trying to tell the story smarter than the next guy.

DZ: There’s an enormous disconnect between data and knowledge. None of us suffer from a lack of data, we live in an era of big data. We have to remember that data is only as useful as the questions you ask. Data does not make decisions. People make decisions using data, and so I think when you’re looking at vendors, whether they be big or small, you need to really look at their ability in doing that.

PG: Aare companies asking TAG the right questions around trust and transparency? Should there be a template issued by the IAB to help both buy and sell side vendors ask everybody the right information to track those insights?

RT: The conversation has to be very unique between partners. Everyone knows we certify organisations but a big part of what we focus on is not just are you certified or not, it’s connecting the dots between partners and encouraging them to get to know each other better beyond just seeing whether a company is certified or not. At the moment within this industry brand safety means something different to everyone. We need to dig further into what the advertiser actually wants and what does the publisher actually have to offer, that transparency and connection is vital, a checklist can only go so far.

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